Stephen Hawking’s glasses and wheelchair are among the items to be on display at the London Science Museum UK News


A collection of Professor Stephen Hawking’s personal effects and papers has been acquired by two British cultural institutions that act as the time capsule of his life and career.

An agreement follows between the government, the Science Museum Group and the Cambridge University Library.

The entire contents of his office are kept in the London Science Museum. Selected highlights will be exhibited at the beginning of 2022.

Professor Hawking died in 2018

It will contain one of his first speech synthesizers, one of his last wheelchairs, scientific bets signed with his thumbprint, and letters he wrote to popes, presidents and scientists.

There will also be glasses in the museum with a sensor on them that he checked by twitching his cheek.

The earliest generations of his communications equipment were controlled by finger clickers, but by 2008 he couldn’t use his fingers so they developed a system for the glasses.

The glasses had an infrared LED and a receiver and were connected to an analog flasher switch that converted the signals into an on-off switch.

Stephen Hawking is known as one of the greatest scientific minds of the last century.

His daughter Lucy Hawking said, “One of the really fascinating things in his life is how many different strands there were” and that the collections paint a portrait of the rounded person he was.

“He was a scientist, he was an activist, he was a very courageous man, he was a medical miracle, he was a friend of all kinds of extraordinary people. And yet of course he was our father too.”

Sir Ian Blatchford, Director of the Science Museum Group, says that by keeping the items, future generations will be able to immerse themselves in the minds of a scientist who “defied the laws of medicine, to rewrite the laws of physics, and to win the hearts of millions touch”. .

The scientist's wheelchair. Image: Science Media Group
The scientist’s wheelchair. Image: Science Media Group

The archives at Cambridge University contain 10,000 pages of Prof. Hawking’s works and will live under the same roof as the papers of his idol Sir Isaac Newton and the work of Charles Darwin. This means that three of the most important scientific archives will be available in one place.

After living with motor neuron disease for more than five decades, Mr. Hawking was died in March 2018 at the age of 76 and his ashes were buried in Westminster Abbey next to Sir Isaac.

He began his graduation career at Cambridge University, where he held an office until shortly before his death.

University Vice Chancellor Professor Stephen J Toope said he was “an icon not only in this university and city but around the world, an inspiration to everyone who met him and admired him by many, including myself”.

A copy of his thesis. Image: Science Media Group
A copy of his thesis. Image: Science Media Group

When his PhD thesis went public in 2017, Mr. Hawking said, “Every generation stands on the shoulders of those who went before them, just like I did as a young graduate student at Cambridge.”

It is to be hoped that the vast scientific treasure trove will serve today’s young scientists and perhaps inspire the next Professor Stephen Hawking.

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